Sometimes, bottlenecks in such large and profound industries drive big changes. And sometimes, those big changes represent real efficiencies. Once they are in place, they tend to remain a part of modernizing a particular market or field.
Many people would say that the state of Washington’s new move to open up plan reviews to third-party entities and organizations is the case.
As of December 20th, 2021, Factory Assembled Structures (FAS) Program filed an emergency rule (CR-103E) for 120 days. The emergency rule sets down in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) requirements that will allow customers to use an agency-approved licensed professional engineer or architect to review plans. The process covers the review of design plans for factory-built structures, recreational park trailers, recreational vehicles, and conversion vendor units (such as food trucks). As of April 5th, 2022, this emergency rule has been extended another 120 days, and in the process of making this a permanent change. You can find information about Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) rulemaking on their website.
The changes affect rules under:
- Chapter 296-150C WAC, Commercial Coaches
- Chapter 296-150F WAC, Factory-built housing and commercial structures
- Chapter 296-150P WAC, Recreational park trailers
- Chapter 296-150R WAC, Recreational vehicles
- Chapter 296-150V WAC, Conversion vendor units and medical units
The background of Washington State’s decision has to do with the global pandemic and the market changes that it brought.
Obviously, things changed overnight as coronavirus lockdowns proceeded in the early part of 2020.
First of all, covid19 created a lot of challenges and delays across the board. Logistically, it was hard to keep offices operating at peak performance due to high rates of illness and the toll that precautions took on business as usual.
But the state’s review process had its unique challenges, too. First of all, the full-time plan review staff decreased by 80% or more. At the same time, there was a lot more demand from builders, partly because they wanted to create extra spaces to accommodate physical distancing. With that, the FAS Program developed a backlog of plan reviews, which led the state to start opening up processes for third-party outsourcing. This emergency rule is another effort for them to speed up their processes and meet the demands Washington state has seen.
Reassurance and a New Model
In order to facilitate covid expedition, the parties involved promoted ideas like the ANSI standard and other means by which third parties could make sure that plans were held up under a microscope.
Eventually, the state office started to see the value proposition of letting third parties review builder plans. It became more of a consensus that this type of streamlining would be suitable for the state and builders. Many applicants, of course, welcomed the change.
Since then, the state has approved ICC NTA as an agency-approved licensed Professional Engineer. By ensuring that off-site construction projects have the quality in place to meet safety and performance standards and code compliance, ICC NTA is helping to revolutionize how builders apply within Washington State and what results they receive.
ICC NTA works to evaluate HUD projects, modular construction projects, various types of residential and commercial work, and industrial facilities.
About ICC NTA, LLC: As an accredited third-party agency and part of the International Code Council (ICC) Family of Solutions, ICC NTA provides code evaluation, product certification, inspection, engineering, plan review, and testing services, as well as independent quality and standards compliance verification for building product manufacturers. With offices, testing labs, and training facilities in Nappanee, Indiana and Bryan, Texas, ICC NTA serves residential and commercial builders, code officials, manufacturers, and suppliers throughout the building industry.